Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just another "American Gangster" flick.

If it weren't for the Oscar hype, there'd be no hype at all, cause the fact is, you've seen all of this before. And for that matter, you've seen it done with a lot more style. But you'd have to go back a ways, say Coppola's "The Godfather" or Lumet's "Serpico". I went to see what all the fuss was about yesterday and frankly I don't get it. I don't get it the same way I don't get Scorsese grabbing an Oscar for "Departed". Sorry to all the Denzel faithful (though he's fine in a really mediocre way), but the fact is this film is a bore. That is, if you've ever actually seen a gangster flick before. As we're all waiting for awards season to arrive in full force, there's probably little doubt that "American Gangster" will get some sort of nod, but isn't this exactly what's gone wrong with all of the major awards shows in the first place... just like the rest of Hollywood, everything's a retread. There are lots of other original films that deserve the kind of attention (and box-office) that Ridley Scott and crew are being lavished with. Wanna see a great orginal gangster outing... check out Ben Kingsley in "You Kill Me". Limited released into near obscurity, go grab the DVD and learn what it's like to want to root for an Oscar nomination.


  1. Adding "You Kill Me" to my Blockbuster queue. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. You Kill me has been in my netflix queue for a while.

    Being that I live with one of the "Denzel faithful", I can tell matters not....great or mediocre....we are in line on opening Friday.

    As far as Marty's win goes, The Academy figured this may be their last chance to get Marty the win he deserved for Raging Bull. And Joe Pecsi should go over to Timothy Hutton's house and take his Oscar!!

    And while I'm on this mini rant....just what does Djimon Hounsou have to do to win? Losing to Alan Arkin in a role that he could phone in.

  3. An interesting note about Denzel's performance in American Gangster is that it's been causing some backlash among black newspaper columnists, particularly in New York where, for the most part, the real story of Frank Lucas all went down. The anger stems from the real life deeds of the notorious East coast drug lord.

    One of the most telling quotes was published in the New York Daily News. In it, the film was compared to a BET channel documentary... "Frank Lucas has been given qualities that he simply did not have. We see him played as a soft-spoken and sophisticated man who closely studies the written word and only explodes into violence every now and then. In actuality, as the BET documentary reveals, Lucas was illiterate... He not only killed people to impress his ruthlessness on the underworld, but even put out a murder contract on one of his own brothers... that such icy qualities are not in the movie makes it a highly crafted piece of poisonous eye candy."

    The comments of offense at the "heroic" treatment of an underworld character certainly aren't new. Look at the treatment and subsequent lionization (as well as the Cuban community's outrage) of the Pacino portrayal of Scarface and you need look no further. What seems to be different here is the community at offense. Perhaps African American's that hold the power of the press are feeling a bit feed up with reenforcing a stereotype that has become pop-culture strong through the format of Rap Music. Or is this more about Denzel? Maybe it's just not very comfortable watching the heavily praised, black American, Academy Award® winning actor, play a character on the screen that, at the end of the story, seems to be absolved of a life of brutal crimes through a few months of spilling his secrets to the police. From my own point of view, I think I agree, Denzel and the movie get off far too easily. Perhaps we've all just had enough of making movie heroes out of real life murderers.


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